“These women are more than capable, and now they are trained with in-demand technical skills. We want to support strong, skilled female professionals in the community – it doesn’t matter what direction they choose after the program. They are leaders.”
-Jena Borel, Program Manager—Reporting
A new cohort of students–the third group of the year, across four campuses in northern Iraq–have started at our tech hubs. The start of each term is an exciting time, rich with fresh hopes for finding and creating jobs in Iraq’s unique post-war economy.
When we first piloted this program, student recruitment was focused on refugee and displacement camps, where the opportunities for young adults were few. It was an acute need that we saw and responded to. The situation has shifted since we first launched our tech hubs, and we continue to respond to needs as we see them, now including more students from the communities surrounding our tech hubs.
“We developed a vulnerability calculation to guide the selection of individuals in need of access and opportunity. We shifted our targeting to include vulnerable host community populations.” Jena Borel pays close attention to the statistical side of our tech hubs. She sees patterns emerge in the data. “Unemployment isn’t isolated to refugee or IDP camps—it is systematic within the Iraq labor market.”
Another shift at our tech hubs this year has been an increasing number of young women joining our program. Most Iraqis and Syrians still live within traditional roles for young women in their communities. And naturally, the trauma many experienced during war has made many families ever more protective of their daughters and sisters. That’s understandable.
And yet, many of our female students are mothers or caretakers. Daily they make the commitment to learn both tech and soft skills essential for the current global economy, to better themselves, their families, and their futures.
The staff at each of our tech hubs work incredibly hard to create professional, safe, motivating learning communities. That effort has paid off in ensure the program has a great reputation, which speaks for us long before we have our first interactions with potential students and employers.
That combined effort has also paid off in jobs for students!
Roma (above, center) completed the Basic IT program, and a portion of the Accounting program when her accounting teacher was able to share, “Today, I heard very good news from the smartest girl in my class—Roma. She got a full-time job!”
Anahid (above, right, with her teacher standing behind her) was a new student in our Basic IT program when she learned how to create projects using Excel. Despite being new to the idea of freelance work, her teacher challenged her class to find customers for the project they created. The class was skeptical, but shortly after Anahid sold her project to two buyers, and is currently strategizing how she can improve her current project, and create different projects to sell.
“We have very intelligent, capable students – but also people who are highly motivated to attain employment. Without motivation, you can’t be successful,” Jena noted.
“We’re very proud of all the individuals this year. We’ve seen a lot of success.”